by Jim McIllmurry
Reading through the records of the Poor Law Board meetings in Lurgan do make depressing reading, yet I feel it is important to share.
Take the minutes of a meeting that took place on Thursday the 14th January 1904.
Joshua McNeice made the request that paupers should be interred in Lurgan Cemetery according to the religious belief they professed.
He requested that separate portions should be granted by the council for both Catholic and Protestant pauper burials.
He explained that the ground in the cemetery allotted to the paupers was now full and could not be opened for twenty years.
Lurgan council was compelled to provide more ground for these burials.
The cost to bury a pauper was £2 which was why so many would not claim the bodies because relatives could not afford that kind of money, leaving the bill for the ratepayers to pay.
Mr. McNeice went on to say it was a disgrace how paupers were being buried in Lurgan.
He pronounced “A pit is dug into which a crude coffin is thrown in without regard or respect. Many of these coffins contain women and children.
The coffins will remain on view on top of eachother for nine to ten weeks until the pit is full, only then it is filled in. The stench is appalling.
Another thing is, paupers of all persuasions are buried together and poor people unlike those who are better educated hold many superstitions in regard to this.”
Mr. W.B. McDonald objected to the segregation of paupers.
After a show of hands, the motion was passed for the segregation of pauper burials and a letter was sent to the council requesting this.
You can read more about the Lurgan Workhouse HERE
Our thanks to Jim for his kindness in giving us permission to publish these stories here.